By Samantha Jackson, Sustainability Resource Center
The University of Utah Greek Community took on a sustainable pilot program this spring semester to aid in the University’s effort to incorporate sustainability into the culture of the campus. The “Spring into a Greener Greek” challenge was designed to be a simple, yet effective, program to help improve environmental awareness and encourage sustainable behaviors on Greek Row.
Even though the program was new to the Greek Choice Awards, an annual event, participating houses jumped in and used the opportunity to educate housemates on sustainable living.
Chapters earned points in 10 different areas ranging from energy-use reduction to attending lectures on sustainability. Houses were also awarded extra credit through innovative ideas thought up by chapter members. House leaders checked in monthly to tally points and help chapters discover where improvements could be made. At the end of March, all points were added together to determine the winner.
The winner, by a landslide, was the Sigma Chi Fraternity. The fraternity excelled because of their efforts and innovations. “I think that the Sigma Chi chapter at the University of Utah was the most involved and excited about this program because we realize the importance of sustainability on campus and in the community. Sigma Chi’s are very ambitious, and our fraternity teaches ideals that are practiced through involvement on campus and success in academic and extracurricular activities,” says House Manager Trey Gunnel.
Attendees at the Greek Choice Awards on April 12 witnessed the commitment Gunnel describes. The chapter took home multiple awards that evening.
Sigma Chi went above the call of duty for this program, particularly in the Innovations category. They installed a bike rack and put up posters of local bus routes for chapter members to use. Both of these innovations created a more sustainable environment within the chapter house, as well as opened up more parking and eased traffic on busy local streets.
“I have taken a more holistic view of sustainability since starting this program. Not only do I recycle more, but I can see how riding bikes or using public transportation can affect the environment,” Gunnel says.
The Greek Choice Awards is an annual event hosted to highlight all the positive achievements made by our Fraternity & Sorority Community.
“The community leaders were excited to introduce the 1st Annual Award Winner of the ‘Greener Greek’ award, as they felt it accurately supported our fraternal values-based experience,” says Sonja Jensen, interim assistant dean of students. “We value our communities—the U and the wider SLC valley—and want to support initiatives that not only help our organizations but also contribute to making positive and impactful experiences for others.”
The Sustainability Resource Center was the only outside group to present an award to the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils during the Greek Choice Awards. We are grateful for the opportunity to connect with the community and the chance to work with Jensen and the Panhellenic Council Vice President of Programming Ambra Jackson, who are dedicated to building an enjoyable and meaningful Greek life experience at the U.
Samantha Jackson graduated with a degree in Health Promotion & Education in May. She was a Sustainability Ambassador for the Sustainability Resource Center from 2012 to 2014.